Or cringe? Rex
A couple of days into my daughter's third term at primary school, I was taken aside by her teacher during drop-off. "Can I have a quick word with you please?" she said gently.
My natural reaction was to feel worried about what was coming next - mainly because I put my own mum through the wringer when I was five. Every Monday morning I would tell my teacher during circle time that my mum had 'kissed another soldier' at the weekend. And I have often heard my mum trot out stories of her utter humiliation and embarrassment when she was delicately but repeatedly questioned about it by the teacher at parents' evenings.
My mum has never kissed a solider (I don't think), but she agonised about what the school staff had been saying about her in the staff room, and what other untruths I might have told them about her.
Anyway, wondering what the teacher wanted to say to me, my palms started sweating.
"Is it something bad?" I asked, in hushed tones - the other mums were milling around, placing coats on hooks, kissing their offspring, and I didn't want them to hear whatever it was that was about to come.
"No, nothing too bad," the teacher laughed nervously.
My mind was racing. Had my daughter told her about my threat to go and live in Australia because she wouldn't let me brush her hair that morning? Had she sworn at her teacher? Was she going to tell me off for not ironing her school sweatshirt? Or was she just going to ask if we could make a cake for the school fête the following week?
The teacher went on... "Betty seems a little excited about not having to wear tights in this warmer weather and has been spending much of her time lifting her dress and exposing her bottom to her classmates. I can't seem to make her stop."
Quietly relieved that it hadn't been any of the above, or indeed my new found love of vodka, I perhaps became a little too relaxed, and replied with: "Well, she probably gets it from me."
No sooner had I come out with this utterly random statement, than I became distracted by my two year old, Dolly, who had scaled the school climbing frame and was hanging from the monkey bars, bellowing at a bemused year six boy to get her down. I watched in horror as she got angry with a teacher who had stepped in to help.
Amongst perfectly groomed mums in skinny jeans, and with my chocolate stained Primark scarf flapping in the wind, I looked like a mother out of control – one wayward child and one flasher...
I scooped up Dolly, who was face down wailing into the tarmac, kissed Betty goodbye while whispering into her ear "keep your dress down my darling, you'll get cold" and made a hasty getaway.
As I drove off, it dawned on me what exactly I had just said to Betty's teacher.
Why did I give her the impression that I myself flash my bum in my spare time? What had I been thinking? And more importantly, what would Betty's teacher now be thinking? Would she have realised the comment was a joke, or would she now be thinking that I was some sort of slapper?
I thought about phoning her and confirming with her that it was a joke but didn't want to draw attention to it. I imagined the conversations in the staff room at morning break, I felt mortified, far more so than for Betty's crime.
I mentioned it to my husband when I got home, who said: "Well at least you didn't tell her that Betty gets it from me."
When Betty got home from school that afternoon, I sat her down for a chat.
"Have you been showing your bottom to your classmates?" I asked her. "Yes," she replied proudly.
As the conversation progressed she was genuinely confused about why it was 'bad manners' to flash. Looking crestfallen she asked "But what is wrong with my bottom?"
There is nothing wrong with your bottom my darling, but it's not right to show it off in public. Mummy would never do anything like that. Can you tell your teacher that tomorrow?
Have you been embarrassed by your children's unknowingly 'bad manners'?
What's the worst thing your child has proudly told a teacher?